Landholders left in the dark as funding is pulled from Inland Rail grade separation projects

Landholders left in the dark as funding is pulled from Inland Rail grade separation projects
  • PublishedOctober 9, 2023

Lack of communication is leaving a sour taste in landholders’ mouths, after funding for a number of road bridges along the Narromine-to-Narrabri section of the Inland Rail network was pulled.

The Inland Rail project is a 1,700-kilometre freight rail network that will eventually connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

In consultation the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), funding for the bridges between Narromine and Narrabri was not included in this year’s New South Wales budget.

Gilgandra region landholder Doug Wilson is one of many locals concerned about the project’s future.

“They keep going on about world standards, and they go on about how good this is going to be, but you can’t get any answers out of them, and they seem to want to short cut the important things,” Mr Wilson said.

Earlier this year, the federal government agreed to 19 recommendations after the findings of the Independent Review of Inland Rail were released.

In line with the response, the ARTC  has agreed to take a staged approach to deliver the Inland Rail.

For now, the priority is the section between Beveridge in Victoria and Parkes in NSW, to be completed by 2027.

Landholders in the Narromine-to-Narrabri (N2N) section now feel they have been left behind, and with funding of the grade separation infrastructures within the section now non-existent, the question of what is happening is at the forefront of local’s minds.

Grade separation involves aligning two or more different types of transport infrastructure at different levels, in order to prevent delays and the possibility of collisions.

Long straight road in green farm land leading towards mountains in background.
The Inland Rail corridor will impact a number of properties within the Narromine-to-Narrabri section.(Supplied: Inland Rail)

The Inland Rail line will run along the edge of Mr Wilson’s property, just south-west of Gilgandra.

He said the ARTC’s plans, including those for grade separation projects, seemed to change often.

“In regards to [grade separation] across the highways, they have changed their mind three times, and then we’re told that they couldn’t afford it,” Mr Wilson said.

The recent state budget mentioned a number of projects not proceeding or deferred “as identified in the strategic infrastructure review”, in which the Inland Rail Grade Separation Program was included.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Regional Transport and Roads has said that “proposed grade separation projects linked to Inland Rail are under examination, as part of the Australian government’s comprehensive infrastructure investment program review”.

“While this review work is undertaken and finalised, a state funding allocation for grade separations has been excluded from the 2023-24 NSW budget,” they said.

Frustrated landholders

Narromine Mayor Craig Davies said his understanding was there was now a focus on speeding up the process of purchasing land required for the project.

“There are numerous examples of where landholders actually want to sell out,” Cr Davies said. 

“But they can’t sell out, because there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the corridor that runs through their properties.”

Once the N2N becomes a priority, Cr Davies believes that rail crossings will be budgeted for.

“So, we will see a situation where the Tomingley Road, for example, will have a road over rail situation built about 10km south of Narromine, and a similar situation will happen about 12 or 15km north of Narromine, just to separate the road from the rail,” he said

Inland Rail has supported this understanding, stating that “future decisions by the Australian government on the delivery of Inland Rail sections north of Narromine [including N2N] will be considered when the government has more certainty as to the delivery and full cost of Inland Rail”.


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